During football season, we like to do top ten rundowns of
the Dave Wannstedt, Michael Haywood, Todd Graham, Keith Patterson whoever happens to be the head coach at the time. But with the Khem Birch stuff fading into oblivion, I wanted to get my thoughts out there and put together a top five. As Greg mentioned earlier this week, Birch had a pretty publicized interview with Pitt's flagship (well, at least when Steelers season isn't in) radio station. If you listened to it, you know that while he was definitely courteous, his answers were short at best. And if you haven't heard it yet, take five minutes and do so here.
Because this was from a radio show, I'm paraphrasing some of this, so the quotes may not be exact. A few of these are direct quotes from the Post-Gazette recap. But the general gist of his responses is below. With that, I present the top five quotes from the interview.
5. In talking about his relationship with Jamie Dixon, he said it was okay, but they didn't really connect. He also said he wouldn't call him to tell him how he felt.
If it's simply a matter of a relationship there and not meshing well, that happens. I'd like to think he would get a good feel for Dixon's personality beforehand during the recruiting process, but seeing a coach in that setting isn't the same as seeing him in practice. Still, though, a relationship takes two parts. And the fact that he wouldn't call Dixon before to tell him how he felt is at least a bit on Birch.
4. (From Post-Gazette (PG)): "When I was there, they said, 'We don't slow the ball down. We're the third-leading scoring team in the Big East. We don't slow the ball down,' " he said. "They said with all the athletes that were coming in that we were going to be more of an up-tempo team."
Look, recruits get sold a false bill of sale all the time. I won't deny that a faster pace wasn't hinted at. But the thing is, at some point, recruits have to wade through the piles and eventually come to their own conclusions. The other thing to remember is that Birch left only ten games into the season. Pitt has been recruiting more athletic skill players, but it's going to take time for those guys to develop. The fact is that Pitt has never played that style before, so to expect, in the words of Todd Graham, 'Speed, speed, speed', is a bit unrealistic. Dixon probably did have hopes of playing a bit more up-tempo at some point, but right away? Come on.
3. (From PG) "I felt like, just coming in as an All-American, they didn't try to embrace me or anything," he said. "I think some felt threatened."
Threatened? I can understand the sentiment, but I think that word's probably a bit strong. He'd know better than I would, but I don't know about threatened. Now, do I think some of the players felt he acted as if he were entitled? Probably. And because of that, did they maybe treat him a little differently? Again, probably. But that's part of the territory in my opinion. That's going to exist anywhere other than maybe Duke or Kentucky where it seems as if every kid on the roster is an All-American.
2. (From PG) "I remember when some people didn't get what they wanted, during a half, if they didn't score a certain amount of points, during halftime, it would be silence from those players. It wasn't like they were happy. Even if we were winning, they would just get mad because they didn't get what they wanted."
Man, I don't know what to do with this at all. When you think of Pitt, you generally don't think of selfish attitudes. I hate to speculate here because no one knows who he's referring to, but there's only guy I think of when I think about scoring on the team ... guess I can leave it at that. Still, though, I do think this could happen. It happens at probably some level on every single team, so why not here?
1. Paul Alexander asked him about being a lynchpin on the team and now because essentially that Pitt has now been left a bit shorthanded, did he have any regrets in that regard. Birch said "Not really" and that he just wanted to try something different cause that wasn't his fit.
This is my biggest beef with Birch bolting in the middle of the season. Not that he wanted to leave because he's obviously free to go where he wants. The issue I have is that he doesn't really comprehend that not only did he quit, but he left his teammates out there high and dry. As I've stated before, I'd have a lot more respect for this decision had Birch stuck it out for the rest of the season and then left.